The Truth about 4D

Singapore Pools has always had an unexplainable lure toward Singaporeans. I would know, because I fell for that very one. It may have been the thrill of gambling that tempted me to keep coming back, or it may have been something else. Regardless, it was only Singapore Pools that was able to satisfy me.

We Singaporeans love 4D – its tickets are cheap, which has kept its market quite engaged. This was one of the reasons why it was easy for me to give in to the game. A mere dollar was enough to give me a chance to win a couple thousand bucks. The cost didn’t seem too heavy to shell out for betting, which was why I spent $100 a month on 4D.

However, as I was searching on how to turn the chances in my favor, I found out the truth – the math behind 4D. It wasn’t anything that Singapore Pools was trying to hide, it’s just something that I was too absorbed to notice myself. To hit the jackpot in this kind of lottery, the odds would be 1 in 10,000. And the fact that the risk of losing $1 for the possibility of winning $2,000 doesn’t seem too great shows that an average punter would not stop betting at $1. Given the odds, 9,999 times out of 10,000, you’ll lose and end up with a predictable equation.

Although 1/10,000 times, you’ll be able to win $2,000, if you subtract the number of times your odds are not in your favor, you’ll end up with negative profits. Specifically, if your odds of losing (9,999/10,000) are multiplied to the amount of money you shell out ($1) then subtracted from your odds of winning (1/10,000) multiplied to the amount of money you will win ($2,000), you will end up with $-0.7999. That figure of $-0.7999 is what goes to the house every time you bet a dollar. So if the odds are accurate, by the time you win the $2,000 prize, you will have spent $7,998.20 dollars. Looking back, I realize that it doesn’t seem like minimum risk at all. The amount I spend to win the jackpot is more than thrice the jackpot itself. No wonder the house presents the cost much less than the prize. This is how we punters are tempted. And apparently, tempted we were.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been winners of 4D, some of whom have experienced it a handful of times. Even better, according to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), tax isn’t deducted from the winnings. However, this doesn’t mean that the 1/10,000 probability is debunked, the same way it doesn’t mean that winning is necessarily easy either.

These gambling opportunities have been well-structured to ensure that the lottery does not earn negative profit. Otherwise, what would be the point of them offering the service, right?

Some people think that they can control the 4D or Toto, or at least find ways to manipulate their chances. The Law of Large Numbers states that doing an action repeatedly for countless times reveals that the average of the products is along the same range of the expected value. The draw should display the numbers’ level of appearances evenly. This is why others believe that choosing numbers that appear less will increase their chances. However, it should be kept in mind that this should not be the case seeing as each draw is in no way linked to any other.

In the end, it all comes down to return of investment. “How much money have I already spent on Toto and 4D the past couple of years? Have I won any? And if so, how much?” – something to think about.


Xebastian Ouyang